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What’s The Beef? Essay

2304 words - 9 pages

The abuse of livestock is a widespread problem that affects everyone who buys and consumes meat products. Most people are not even aware of how slaughter-destined animals are treated while alive, what chemicals are forced into their bodies, what they are forced to eat, and how they are slaughtered. Fortunately, an increasing number of slaughter plants and small farms have been conforming to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), after it was passed in 1958, and amended to be fully enforced in 2002, but there are still slaughter plants that abuse, neglect, and provide poor conditions for livestock (“Humane” Animal). When looking at the realities of mass producing meat and animal products, two serious problems arise: the quality of life for the animals, and the possible negative health effects for the people who consume these products.
Abuse is a hard word to define; but one knows it when one sees it. Being force-fed unnatural diets, receiving unneeded injections of hormones and antibiotics, both natural and synthetic, slaughtered while still conscious and fully capable of feeling pain, unprecedented prodding with electrical cattle prods, filthy and cramped living conditions—this is abuse, and is common in the business of meat production. Many of these are considered violations of HMSA, but still many forms of abuse are legal. HMSA defines a violation as use of excessive force, dragging conscious animals, not providing water, not providing food if an animal will be held in a pen for 24 hours, not providing room to lie down if an animal is being held overnight, and slaughtering still-conscious animals (“Humane Slaughter”). HMSA does not regulate the antibiotics and hormones injected into animals or their diets—two critical things involved in the raising of livestock—and what HMSA does regulate, it does so ineffectively (“Humane” Weaknesses).
Jo Robinson, an investigative reporter at Mother Earth News, thoroughly explains hormone usage in the beef industry. In her article she states that cattle are given hormone implants to make them grow faster and larger. Generally, these hormone implants contain three natural hormones: estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, and two synthetic hormones: zeranol and trenbolone acetate. Robinson explains that no negative health effects have been linked to trenbolone acetate, but in a study of zeranol done by Ohio State University, “Cancer researchers mixed human breast cancer cells with trace amounts of Zeranol… [and found it] caused a significant spurt in tumor growth, even at levels 30 times lower than levels the FDA maintains are safe”. Not only that, but also the European Commission Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General has found in numerous studies that the consumption of meat from hormone-alter cattle may be linked to birth defects and premature sexual development. The European Union has banned these implants, claiming there is no way to know if...

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